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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Habits of Highly Effective Brook Trout Anglers

Be a Brookie Boss

Hefty Brook Trout taken from a remote lake
When it comes to emails and questions we get about our patterns, posts and fish we chase, we get a lot of interest generated by our obsession with Brook Trout. So with that in mind, I figured it was time to throw out some of the things you can pay attention to in order to get into these awesome fish. There are, of course, a lot of other factors, but these are some good starting points.

1. Research. Because most people are fairly respectful of the discretion that surrounds some of the better Brookie waters, you can't expect to just start asking around and get the skinny on these types of  lakes and streams. If you expect to get some information, you'll need to start digging. I usually start with stocking reports and Google Earth -- both publicly available and neither of them are moochy "Hey guys, give me some info on secret locations" questions posed on the interwebs. Books, some internet sites or even photo sharing sites can also be of help once you have a good starting point or places to go on. I even found some great information in an old outdated wildlife resources pamphlet I happened to stumble across. And don't assume that because you don't find a lot of information on a lake or stream that it's not going to pan out. Often, the least known locations will have the best opportunities. I once followed a hunch to fish a lake that I knew had Brookies but that did not turn up on any reliable sources I could verify. Those are the ones that will have the potential for huge payoffs.

2. Be willing to invest in the trip. Like most of their trout cousins, Brookies especially like cool
The ATV's come in handy
clean water which is more often found in higher elevation lakes and streams.  That also means, thankfully, there are not as many paved roads that lead to prime Brookie habitat. Whether it's a hike, an ATV ride or a bumpy 4WD truck trip, you need to be prepared to sometimes put in the time to get to where you're going. On the bright side, you'll see a lot fewer people and you'll often have the entire place to yourself. Don't let the difficulty of travel push you to an easier-access location. The best fishing will likely be at the end of a gnarly trail.

3. Know where they hide. In my experience, more than other trout (or char) species, Brookies are notorious for hanging out in and under structure. Whether it's fallen trees, weed patches, overhanging rocks or just shadows here and there, you'll most often find Brookies where they aren't as easily seen by predators. One of my favorite techniques, when fishing a lake with a rocky shoreline is to throw the fly as close as I can to the shore right next to overhanging or submerged rocks. I've seen really nice fish come rocketing out of nowhere to smash the fly. Not only that, but if you know a body of water has Brook trout, and you can find a cooler stream inlet or spring, you can probably be guaranteed to find fish in those locations. Combine the two -- structure and cooler water -- and you've just scored a touchdown.

4. Be "vewy vewy" quiet. You've probably all seen how fast Brook trout will scatter for safer confines when you spook them. So it's obviously important to keep a low profile and use stealth when approaching any holding lies. But what people often don't realize is that you can spook a fish without sending it swimming for cover. I've seen many times where a pod of fish maintains the same position, but will keep a zipped lip due to the heightened level of jitters caused by my presence. So stay low, stay quiet and you'll be better off.

Chimera army ready for some brookies
5. Fly Selection Matters. I'm not sure what it is, but I frequently hear the same thing about Brookies and other high mountain fish: "Oh, they'll take anything!". While that may be the case on some days under certain conditions, I've found that it doesn't usually hold true. Like most other trout, Brookies will most normally key in on their typical food sources. And while they'll be opportunistic in taking bigger flies like articulated streamers and mice patterns, I've really done the best with patterns that imitate a good variety of their day-to-day food source. And my favorite Brookie pattern, the Chimera, imitates a few different bugs at once.

So these are a few of the things we've found that help find these colorful and challenging fish. Now, get out and find a few!

A fall brook trout

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Junk Yard Soft Hackle

Turn your tying waste into fishy goodness

Junk Yard Soft Hackle - From trash to treasure

This is another one of those videos that isn't necessarily to show you a new pattern, but it's to show you a few different techniques.  I have dabbled with throwing a bunch of stuff in dubbing loops for years, but since I got my new Stonfo tools it has kind of gone into overdrive...  In this pattern I specifically use the "under-fluff" part of a coq de leon hen saddle feather to create a functional soft hackle.  If you like a really sparse soft hackle you can use fewer turns, and if you like a full hackle (like the one I was shooting for) you can load it up.  I also used a dubbing loop technique for the body that isn't anything new, but it helps really compact buggy materials into a tight loop.

~ Cheech

Hook: Allen D202 #10 BUY
Thread: UTC 70 - fl. orange BUY
Body: SLF dubbing - RFSN thorax BUY
Thorax: SLF dubbing - RFSN abdomen BUY
Hackle: Fluff waste feathers from coq de leon hen saddle - dyed salmon BUY 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Carp Dough Boy

Move over dough balls

Carp Dough Boy

Here is a little carp pattern that we have been playing with recently. With some of the new carp toys out like Cohen's carp dub, and Allen carp hooks, I couldn't resist messing around with some bugs.  This fly is also very functional as a mini crawfish and can be tied in a variety of different colors to match the forage in your waters.

A couple of keys for this fly:

  1. It's compact like a little edible nugget for the fish
  2. It is a low odor fly.  No superglue was harmed in the making of this film.  The glue was Loon water based stuff.
  3. It's tied on a beefy hook that will hold up to the biggest and baddest carp battles.
  4. Ice dub - it plain catches fish.

Hook: Allen MP003BL #4-#8 BUY HERE
Thread: UTC 140 - fl. fire orange BUY HERE
Eyes: Barbell eyes with eye - 4mm yellow BUY HERE
Tail: Wooly bugger marabou - hot orange BUY HERE
Legs: Magnum predator legs - grizzly barred rootbeer BUY HERE
Body: Cohen's carp dub - cray-zee orange BUY HERE
Collar: Whiting coq de leon hen saddle - speckled orange BUY HERE
Wing: Wooly bugger marabou - rusty brown BUY HERE
Head: Ice dub - pheasant tail BUY HERE

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rusty Mayfly Spinner

Sometimes you need to go a bit realistic

Rusty Mayfly Spinner
If you've ever hit a really good Mayfly spinner fall, then you can see the benefit of this pattern.
Because it features these "hyper-realistic" wings, in traditional spinner orientation, it's sexy as all get out and it's been a great fly to have in the box during these awesome hatch stages.

As far as this pattern goes, it features one of my favorite body materials: wrapped turkey biots (with the ribbing up). If you're a little hesitant to go with Turkey biots, we've done some homework for you and explained all you need to know about biots in general.

Another addition to this type of traditional pattern is the use of some specialty wings. The wings and the wing burners are from the guys as J:Son Sweden. They're an innovative bunch of fly tyers that put out some awesome materials. The wing burners, shown here, come in a variety of sizes and types. These are specifically for mayfly wings and I use them all the time. In this pattern, I use the matching wing material they provide, but you can also do this with any of the medallion sheeting colors we carry in the store.

Material List

Hook: Daiichi 1180, #14-#18 (+)
Thread: MFC Premium Thread, 8/0, Rusty Brown (+)
Tail: Sparkle Emerger Yarn, Gray (+)
Body: Turkey Biot, Rusty Spinner (+)
Wings: J:Son Realistic mayfly wing material, M4  (+)
          or   Medallion Sheeting, Buggy Light Dun (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub, UV Cinnamon (+)

Tools: J:Son Realistic mayfly wing burner, M4 (+)